Cat Releases Largest Mini Excavator with an Expandable Undercarriage

Caterpillar continues to revamp its mini excavator line into its Next Generation platform. This week Cat announced three new Next Generation models in the 2.7- to 3.5-metric-ton class — the 302.7 CR, 303 CR and 303.5 CR. These compacts include all the coolness that comes with the Next Generation badge, including similar operational layouts, exclusive Stick Steer tech (the ability to drive the digger with the joystick), cruise control, operator adjustable settings, increased hydraulic performance and a tilt-up canopy or cab as standard. There are fixed undercarriage versions of all three machines, but an expandable undercarriage option is available for the 302.7 CR, and that’s pretty cool because now it’s the biggest unit on the market to sport one.

“There’s one thing we’ve got on this 302.7 that we’ve never had before,” said Mark Perkes, product application specialist with Cat, in the virtual press launch this week. “We’re going to have the industry first expandable undercarriage on this size machine. Just like we have today on our 301.5 up to the 302, we are now going to bring it to this model, and it works the exact same way.”

The expandable undercarriage allows the operator to hydraulically retract track width to 53.3 in. for fitting into confined spaces and then expand width to 70.1 in. for standard digging and lifting stability. “You get more stability over the side and better access. If you can’t go around, just go through it,” said Greg Worley, product application specialist with Cat.

The coolness doesn’t end there. All three Next Gen models offer both standard- and long-stick configurations to increase machine versatility. Interchangeable counterweight packages enable customers to tailor machine weight to jobs. Offering an advanced touchscreen option, the large Next Generation display provides intuitive machine function control and easy monitoring, offering enhanced machine security options with both a passcode and Bluetooth key start available. An angle blade option on the 303.5 CR gives further flexibility in backfilling applications for increased productivity.

“We’ve got three machines, very similar, a lot of commonalities, but they’re also very different,” explained Worley. “So just to wrap things up. The 302.7 has an expandable undercarriage, the 303 is the big, mean, bad lifting machine, and then the [303.5], it does a little bit of everything. It’s got the angle blade on it, cab, canopy and the long stick option to tackle a variety of jobs.”

Let’s Dive Deeper into the Details

Boosting operating efficiency, servicing ease and operator comfort, the new Cat 302.7 CR, 303 CR and 303.5 CR hydraulic mini excavators introduce industry-first features for the 2.7- to 3.5-tonne class machines. Built on the Next Generation platform that offers a consistent operator experience through the 1.5- to 10-tonne range, each new model features exclusive Stick Steer, cruise control and tilt-up canopy or cab as standard.

Expanded use of common parts throughout the line plus their damage-resistant exterior construction help to reduce parts inventory investment and lower repair costs. Daily maintenance checks are quickly made from ground level through side doors, while the tilt-up cab design offers unmatched access to components for servicing. Increased service intervals mean these excavators spend more time on the job and less time in the workshop. Combined, these features lower total ownership costs up to 5 percent compared to previous models.

At the same time, design enhancements for the new 302.7 CR, 303 CR and 303.5 CR deliver up to 10 percent more performance in travel and trenching. Hydraulic system upgrades improve lifting performance and cycle times, while customizable operator settings improve efficiency.

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The turbocharged Cat C1.1 Turbo engine powers the 302.7 CR and 303 CR models, while the Cat C1.7 anchors the powertrain for the 303.5 CR. Both engines meet U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final emissions standards and offer 23.6 net hp. Standard auto idle and auto engine shutdown help to conserve fuel usage at the site for more affordable operation.

Flexibility increases performance These Next Generation mini hydraulic excavators feature a compact radius swing that reduces overhang when working to the side, allowing the machines to optimize performance in confined spaces. Fixed undercarriage widths for the 302.7 CR, 303 CR and 303.5 CR of 59.1, 61.0 and 70.1 in (1,500, 1550 and 1780 mm) respectively, deliver the right balance of jobsite accessibility and stability for lifting performance. An expandable undercarriage option for the 302.7 CR allows the operator to hydraulically retract track width to 53.3 in. (1355 mm) for fitting into confined spaces and then expand width to 70.1 in. (1780 mm) for superior digging and lifting stability.

Interchangeable counterweight packages enable customers to tailor machine weight to job requirements, offering the balance between low ground pressure and lifting performance. The “light” counterweight option adds 221 lbs to machine weight, while the “extra” adds 551 lbs.

All three Next Gen models offer both standard- and long-stick configurations to increase machine versatility. Standard digging depths range from 96.5 to 110.6 in., while the long stick configuration allows the machines to reach from 104.3- to 122.4-in. depths. The standard dozer blade further increases machine flexibility to handle backfilling and grading tasks. It features ample above- and below-grade travel and has a standard float function for easy cleanup. An angle blade option on the 303.5 CR gives further flexibility in backfilling applications for increased productivity.

Efficient load-sensing hydraulics with variable displacement pump provides oil flow reaching 26 gpm while saving fuel. High main-relief pressures, coupled with flow rates, generates the hydraulic capacity for high digging and lifting forces and more efficient use of a range of attachments. Complete with quick-disconnect lines, the standard auxiliary system provides the choice of one-way, two-way or continuous flow.

Comfortable experience The new 302.7 CR, 303 CR and 303.5 CR offer enhanced machine security options, with both a passcode and Bluetooth key start available. Offering an advanced touchscreen option, the large Next Generation display provides intuitive machine function control and easy monitoring of critical operating parameters, such as fuel level, coolant temperature and maintenance records.

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An industry-exclusive Cat Stick Steer System simplifies machine control, and, at the touch of a button, the operator switches from conventional lever/foot-pedal steering controls to low-effort joystick operation. Two travel ranges with speeds reaching 2.8 mph help to facilitate moving around the jobsite, and standard cruise control minimizes operator interaction when traveling longer distances between work locations.

Unique to their respective classes, these new Next Generation excavators offer the choice between canopy or cab enclosure. The sealed and pressurized cab offers a clean and quiet environment for the operator and can be equipped with heating and/or air conditioning for all-weather climate control. Offering a front window that slides upward to conveniently store overhead, the cab’s large glass areas plus skylight afford all-around visibility.

Keith Gribbins is publisher of Compact Equipment.

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